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What Stace had to say on Monday, May 20th, 2013
WRONG WAYS DOWN news!

I finally have some news to announce!

I have to apologize for the delay here; there was a bit of an issue regarding cover art, basically, which set everything back by almost two months–since formatting can’t start until the cover art is done, we’ve all been in pretty much a holding pattern. I could have bought a stock photo myself and added some text to it, sure, but I wanted something better than that. More special than that. (I’m not saying covers like that can’t be good, at all. Of course they can. I’m simply saying that I personally lack the artistic talent and photo-manipulation skill to do it. I mean, I thought my little cover for BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET was pretty cute, but not only do I want something more…custom, shall we say, for this, there’s a good chance that I’m one of the only ones who thought so.) Add in the extra time for repeated editing passes, and copyediting by a professional, and now cover art which is being illustrated and painted by a professional artist, then then proper formatting (not just a text dump), and hopefully that explains some of the delay. It’s important to me that this be indistinguishable from the other books in the series, and that takes time. (Again, it’s not my intention at all to imply that if somebody manages to do all this faster it means lesser quality.)

But. I DO have something to share! I’ve been meaning to post the back cover copy for a while, and figured now was the perfect time, since I should hopefully have cover art to show in the next couple of weeks. And once that’s done, there should be a release date announcement not long after. (Future projects won’t take so long, I swear; I’m learning as I go here, and now I know a lot more about how to do all of this. Like, for example, don’t wait until the book is actually done to settle on a title and begin the cover art process. Heh.)

So. Here’s the back cover copy for WRONG WAYS DOWN, and then a new excerpt (remember, WWD is set in the time between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; actually it takes place over the week surrounding New Year’s Eve, to be more specific).

It’s a thin line between right and wrong. It’s an even thinner one between wrong and dead…

Terrible has always been on the wrong side of the law, living up to the only name anyone ever gave him. As the chief enforcer for Downside’s most powerful criminal, it’s his job to collect debts and protection money by any means necessary. And he’s very good at his job.

But part of that job is also to keep Bump’s various employees safe. So when a street dealer is found dead and a prostitute is brutally attacked, Terrible immediately starts using his fists to hunt down the ones responsible.

He’s determined to find and destroy them. They’re determined to use his desire for the woman he secretly loves to break him.

EXCERPT:

He ain’t minded the cold, or the dark, but it did make shit harder. Finding people on the street weren’t as easy, and not as many people out there who might try starting shit with him he could finish. And fuck how he wanted to finish something just then, when Bump’s anger still made him tight inside. And fuck, wasn’t he glad he got the chance; third name on he list were home.

He flexed his fingers, stretching them, before curling them into a fist and slamming them into Sharp-Eye Ben’s face again. Ain’t should have felt good doing it, but it did.

And it helped him forget all the other shit. Helped him forget how he’d failed protecting the girls and how maybe he weren’t smart enough to find the dude attacked Sue. Helped him forget how his daughter ain’t even knew she was his, that she thought some other dude was her dad and he couldn’t ever, ever say the truth. Helped him forget how he looked, how fucking pitiful he was when it came to Chess, how he weren’t good enough to even be her friend, weren’t good enough for much at all.

Except this. This was the one thing he did better than anybody else, leastaways better’n anybody else he’d ever met. He’d never lost a fight. And when he was doing it, using his fists, his whole body…he felt right. Like his body did the thinking he mind couldn’t seem to get, and when he was fighting he thought faster than anybody else. If fists were brains he was the smartest dude in the city, and he couldn’t help how that made him feel good.

“Two weeks is up, Ben,” he said, letting his fist hang cocked in the air so Ben could see it. “Ain’t seein any lashers in my hand.”

“Sorry,” Ben gasped. Kinda hard to make out the words, what with he mouth all puffy and bloody, but Terrible had a lot of experience with that. “Tried, I done, I tried, but I ain’t got it yet. Just another week’s all I need, another week—”

Terrible hit him again. “Don’t got another week.”

He dropped Ben—he’d been holding him up by the hair—and turned away as Ben crumpled to the floor. Ben were a speed-banger; his place looked like a banger’s place, almost empty, and cold in the merciless light from the unshaded overheads.

But Ben were a cutpurse, too, which meant he might have something hidden away. Some last valuable thing, pass on to somebody who’d buy he a bag with it, since Ben couldn’t buy from any of Bump’s until he’d paid up. Also meant he knew other thieves, more’n Terrible did.

“Gonna have me the money soon,” Ben whined behind him. Terrible hoisted the end of the cheap-ass couch to look underneath it. Nothing but dust and bloody tissues. “Met—met me a dame, says she give me it, she do. Just ain’t knowing you be here on the today. Can have it on morrow, I can, have it for you then I’m swearing, just…”

Terrible ignored him. No food in the kitchen cabinets—no surprise there—cepting some dusty hard candies loose on a shelf. Nothing in the fridge but cheap beer. He opened the drawers, the freezer, looked under the sink. Dead bugs and rat droppings. Why anybody live that way when they had the choice? Terrible’d had enough filth around when he were a kid, sleeping on the street, staying with any lonely drunk or junkie offered him a bed or some food. Now he had he own place, he ain’t ever wanted to sleep with rats or roaches again.

Ben was still on the floor, ain’t moved at all. Blood dripped out his nose onto the thin dirty carpet. Terrible stepped over him to look in the bathroom and bedroom. Better chances on finding aught in there.

Couple loaded needles. He didn’t touch those. Didn’t really wanna touch shit in that bathroom, actually, or in that apartment. Chess carried gloves, just like she carried baby wipes. He wished she were with him. She’d help him search, help—no, he didn’t wish it. He hated her seeing him work, leastaways like that. It were different when he was protecting her or helping her, but…he hated her seeing him work.

Not causen he were embarrassed by what he did. More like he were embarrassed causen of how he felt about what he did, and it were just more evidence that he was a dumb fucking savage or aught like that, not the kinda man a dame like her even should talk to.

He’d found two gold watches tucked up under the mattress, obviously stolen, before Ben spoke again. “Please…hear you had you a robbery on the other night, I hear. Maybe I can get some knowledge on it for you.”

So Ben only knew about Sue, not Slick. Or was pretending he only knew on Sue, but Terrible guessed he honestly ain’t. Shit like that weren’t Ben’s style; he didn’t think Ben had any at all to do with the attacks, only that Ben might be an ear to the ground and Ben would be happy as hell to pass on whatany knowledge he got.

Ben musta seen him thinking. “Please. Terrible, maybe I find somethin out, maybe I give you what I find, maybe that be a help? Them watches—that one be my daddy’s, it were, my daddy’s watch.”

“Aye?” Damn it, why’d Ben have to fuck up a good deal with such a dumbass lie? He checked the back of the watch face, read the monogram there. “This one? What it say on the back, then?”

Ben hesitated. He’d managed to stand up; Terrible strode over to him and knocked him back down. Fuck, he were pissed enough already, and he’d just started feeling a little better, and now there Ben was pissing him off again. He’d learned a long time ago that when he got mad while he was beating on people, it ain’t ended so good. But now he was. “Don’t fuckin lie to me, Ben. Gets me mad, people lie to me. You want me fuckin mad?”

Ben shook his head, wiping at his mouth with shaking hands. “Nay, sorry, sorry, only I—weren’t thinkin, I weren’t, sorry.”

Should he hit him again? He wanted to. Ben was lying, and—aye, an that’s why he had to. Let people get away with shit, and they’d try getting away with it again. They’d think he was an easy touch, that he ain’t could figure out that they was lying. He hit Ben again. “Think better. Said you could get me some knowledge on that robbery?”

“Can—can try, I can. Bettin I can, I find somebody knows aught they can give me, I bet.”

Terrible pretended to consider it, then nodded. “Aye, right then. On morrow, dig? On morrow I come back. You better fuckin be here, an you better fuckin have the knowledge. And Bump’s money.”

Ben’s mouth fell open—as much as it could. “Thought I give you the knowledge, you take them watches, I ain’t got owes no more—”

Terrible shook his head. “Still got owes. Have em on morrow, and the knowledge. Or I come find you. And then I be mad. Dig?”

Ben nodded.

Terrible reached out and patted Ben’s shoulder, harder than he had to. “On morrow, then.”

He pocketed the watches and left, not looking back.

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 11th, 2013
We Love Hearing From You

Very longtime readers may recognize this story, but I originally posted it six or seven years ago, and it’s relevant, so I’m telling it again.

Back in 2002 I attended my first Dragon*Con (which was awesome). Coincidentally, I’d just finished writing my Very First Novel, a totally abysmal medieval romance. (Seriously, I wish I still had the printed mss to scan some of it to show you. While I still believe it had a couple of quite good scenes, for the most part it was pretty bad: overdramatic characters, contrived plot points, an Evil Ex Lover making silly threats, a Big Misunderstanding…I honestly barely remember the plot at this point, but trust me, it was lame.)

Anyway. There I was at Dragon*Con, and I happened to notice a panel on women writing, so I hopped on over to see it. It was held in a tiny room in the basement, and there were maybe fifteen people there, which was quite sad as the panelists included Betty Ballantine and a writer I hadn’t heard of named Sherrilyn Kenyon.

It turned out, though, that Sherrilyn Kenyon also wrote under the name Kinley MacGregor, and I’d just finished reading Kinley MacGregor’s BORN IN SIN, as part of my research-based orgy of romance reading. And in fact, BORN IN SIN had been one of my favorites of the romances I’d picked up. So once I realized Sherrilyn and Kinley were one and the same, I was quite excited.

Excited enough, in fact, to make a total idiot out of myself after the panel.

I went bopping up to Sherrilyn, all full of vim and eager puppy-dog dorkiness, and gushed at her that I, too, was a writer! I’d just finished my first romance and I was hoping to get it published! Thankfully I did manage to slip in there that I’d loved BORN IN SIN–although I did also say that I’d had no idea who Sherrilyn Kenyon was when I came to the panel and I was so excited to learn she was also Kinley MacGregor and was that information public, which, FFS, moron–but for the most part, I said the sort of things that make me shrink in embarrassment even now, over ten years later. I asked, stammering and blushing, if she thought I should get an agent, as if I could head for the phone book and hire one just like ordering a pizza (I may even have asked who her agent was; I have honestly blocked much of what I said from my memory). I believe I bragged about doing research and said how much I love the medieval period. And then, in a denouement so fucking ridiculous it makes me cringe, I said, “Maybe one day we’ll have the same publisher!”

Like we were going to play on the Avon softball team or something. Like we’d be Publisher Pals and spend our nights having giggly slumber parties and telling secrets. Like my very first mss ever was obviously just as good as any of her books, and of course I could just walk into a publishing contract simply by virtue of having completed a novel (which was, btw, over 114k words of facile plot contrivances and exclamation points. I didn’t even know not to capitalize the pronoun dialogue tag after dialogue ended in one of those exclamation points, so the book was full of shit like: ‘”Unhand me!” She shouted.’).

Sherrilyn was kindness itself. She gave absolutely no indication that she found my questions ridiculous or my lack of publishing knowledge silly and/or naive. She answered my questions nicely and wished me luck, and left me feeling that, well, maybe I’d been a bit nervous, but it was okay. She left me feeling positive and encouraged.

Now, at this point, I had joined the RWA. I’d done a bit of research on publishing; I knew better than to ask some of those questions. But I asked them anyway. Why? Because I was nervous. Because I was intimidated–I’d never met a real-life author before. Because I wanted to seem like I knew what I was talking about. Because I wanted to show her I was serious. And–this is important–because having read and really enjoyed her book, I felt there was some sort of connection between us. She had spoken to me in that book, and I had responded, and that meant something to me; it mattered to me.

I have never, ever forgotten that day. Yes, sometimes it’s a hauntingly humiliating memory, but I still haven’t forgotten it. I was just some red-faced idiot, and instead of responding with contempt, Sherrilyn Kenyon treated me with gentleness and respect.

But it’s not just her politeness that I remember. I remember the things I said, and WHY. All those reasons I listed above: being nervous, being intimidated, wanting to seem like I knew what I was talking about, feeling like there was a connection between us, like maybe we could be friends; like maybe on some level, insignificant as it was, we were friends. I felt like I knew Sherrilyn, a little bit; she had come into my home and entertained me for a while.

Quite recently there was a blog post written by an author wherein she complained about an email sent to her by a reader, which she felt was rude because it referred to her work as “her stuff” (as in “I bought all your stuff”) and said something like “Why aren’t you writing faster!? Get to work!” She rewrote the reader’s email to be more acceptable to her and went on to instruct readers on what questions not to ask authors, Because Rude, or Because Stupid, or something. She complained about being asked questions when the answers are on her website.

I’m not posting about this to pick on that author, which is one reason why I’m not linking to the discussion(s) about it or giving her name (and I have altered some of the quotes slightly, too). We all have bad days; we all make jokes that don’t come off, or get bad advice, or whatever, and she is human just as the rest of us are. As I’ve said before, internet pile-ons have gone way past the point of amusing for me and into nauseating territory, and that’s one big reason why I have cut back on my internet presence so sharply. This isn’t about her, really–although I admit I find it tremendously difficult to think of how awful that poor reader must feel, being held up as an object of scorn like that for the hideous crime of loving a writer’s work so much that she bought all of it and emailed the writer to tell her so, and asked eagerly when she can further support said writer by buying even more of her work, and I found the post pretty horrific–except that she’s sparked several discussions that break my heart.

Those discussions are from readers saying they’re going to think twice before contacting authors whose work they love, because they’re afraid they too will be publicly humiliated in such a rude and painful fashion if they say the wrong thing.

Guys…please don’t be afraid of that.

My story above is about Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I am absolutely certain that you could insert the name of almost any author on the planet and they would have responded with just as much grace. The fact is, hearing from people who love our books is one of the best things about this job. I can only speak for myself and a few of my friends, but I/we don’t seek out reviews. I/we don’t visit the Amazon pages for my books; I don’t Google them (or myself, unless I’m looking for something specific, like a guest blog post I’ve done somewhere or something); I don’t visit their Goodreads pages or my Goodreads Author page, in general. As I’ve said before, if someone directly sends me a link to a review, I will usually click and read it, because A) that’s a specific invitation for me to do so, which means B) it’s probably a positive review, and I like to retweet those or quote them here as a way of thanking the reviewer/giving them credit for the review without barging into their space.

Emails from readers are the most amazing things in the world. They are. I’ve gotten emails that have brought tears to my eyes. I’ve gotten emails that made me laugh. I’ve gotten emails that made me feel like I was floating for hours, all because someone out there took the time to hunt down my contact info and actually tell me, personally, how much they loved my work and that it meant something to them, really meant something. Without wishing to sound as though I’m making a dirty joke, something I wrote touched them, and they touched me back. Isn’t that what writing and reading are all about? A connection with someone else? Isn’t that why we do what we do, whether we’re writing or reading or reviewing–to feel something, to connect with something, to reach out to something? To share something?

Sure, I’ve gotten some rude emails, too. I’ve gotten a few so offensive and outright threatening that I contacted their IPs. I’ve gotten emails that called me names, that called my characters names, that accused me of all manner of nonsense. They’re not fun. But being asked eagerly when the next book is coming, and can’t I write faster, is not rude. It’s charming, and it’s sweet, and while we all know that intent is not magical, the fact remains that in those cases, when the intent is obviously to flatter, it’s rather silly to take offense. This isn’t a male co-worker telling you how hot you look today and then going, “But I meant it as a compliment! You’re sexy!” It’s someone expressing delight in our work, and that’s not an insult. Especially when if we stopped and thought about it we might realize that behind that email is someone trying to make a connection with us, someone perhaps a bit nervous, perhaps a bit intimidated, someone to whom we mean something and our work means something, and maybe because of that meaning they feel like they know us a little bit. Someone who, aside from everything else, is probably not a professional writer, and is writing private correspondence, and so perhaps cannot be expected to phrase everything in a way that perfectly suits and flatters and pleases us.

I never expect that anyone will be intimidated or nervous when speaking to or emailing me; I mean, who the fuck am I? Nobody of any importance. But I’m also aware that contacting anyone you don’t know personally can be intimidating or can make one nervous. I’m also aware that there are indeed people out there–I’ve met them, and more importantly I’ve been one and occasionally still am–who are nervous or intimidated meeting a writer whose work they love. I’d be willing to bet that when Sherrilyn Kenyon headed for that panel that day, she didn’t expect anyone to be nervous or intimidated at the thought of meeting her, and yet there I was with my face beet-red and my hands shaking as I wagged my Newbie Writer tail in desperate, eager neediness, so excited to be talking to a Real Writer that I pretty much ran down a checklist of silly questions and statements.

I have been horrendously lax in replying to my emails. I’m ashamed of it. I’m so far behind I don’t even know how far behind I am, and that’s inexcusable. But that also doesn’t change the fact that I read and am grateful for every one of those emails. And every writer I know feels the same.

So please, guys, don’t stop writing to us. It matters–you matter. Don’t think the fact that one writer was having a bad day or is rude or ungracious or pretentious or mean means we all sit around rubbing our hands just waiting to pick on you for misphrasing something or misspelling something or simply saying something in a way that doesn’t meet someone’s idea of how to correctly speak to An Author. Most of us don’t expect perfection and we don’t expect you to bow and scrape. We love you just as you are, and are interested in whatever you have to say, and are happy to answer what questions we can, when we can. When you email us we’re grateful, not insulted or offended or angry or upset. Hearing from readers is one of the best things that can happen to us, and if that stopped it would be heartbreaking.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Novella News

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day much, and this one is already sort of sucky. So I’m going to cheer myself up now, by giving some news on the Terrible novella and posting an excerpt and all of that fun stuff.

First, a little FAQ:

What is the novella called?

Ha! I finally have an answer for this! The title is WRONG WAYS DOWN.

How long is it?

I’m still editing it, but my estimate is that the final version will be around 55,000 words. So it’s actually more of a short novel than a novella, but oh well.

Is it in continuity?

Yes. It takes place in the time period between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; the last scene is set about two weeks before the start of UM.

What’s it about?

It’s a little mystery, basically. There’s magic and hookers and untrustworthy people and Decisions To Be Made and Temptations To Be Dealt With and, of course, plenty of violence.

It’s not about Terrible and Chess, per se. Chess is certainly in it (I finally got to write an event between them that I mentioned very briefly in CITY OF GHOSTS), and there’s certainly time spent on how he sees and thinks of her, but they’re not really working together in this one. It’s HIS story.

I’d like/I’m planning to write UM and CoG from his POV, combined as one story, but that’s going to depend at least in part on how this one does, and whether you guys like it enough to want more.

Will we find out more of Terrible’s past?

A bit more, yes. Including more details on how he came to work for Bump.

When will it be released?

I don’t have a release date yet, sorry. I’d hoped to have it released around today, but I’ve had sick kids and all kinds of other craziness happening, which has cut into my work time. I am almost finished editing, though, and have a copyeditor lined up and all of that, so I’m hoping to have at least a close estimate soon.

And for those who follow me on Twitter… Yes, Terrible makes himself a sandwich at some point. Hee.

So…on to the excerpt! It’s a scene with Chess in it, because it’s Valentine’s Day. (Plus, come on, I know what you guys want to see.)

(This is pre-copyedits; final version may vary slightly.)

Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012
Happy Thanksgiving!

Some of you are aware that I am writing a novella from Terrible’s POV, which I am hoping to have ready for a Christmas release. So I figure, it’s Thanksgiving, and because the thing I am most thankful for is YOU (yes, you), I’d post the first chapter of it here so you can get a look at it.

Please keep in mind I haven’t finished this, or edited it yet. This is pretty literally a first draft. But I do hope you all enjoy it! (It does not yet have a title, FYI.) And it starts in the time between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC, though it will move into UM and CoG as the story goes on.

So…here we go!

Chapter One

He’d seen a lot of dead bodies in his life. He’d created a lot of dead bodies in his life, done a lot of damage to living ones. But he’d only a few times seen a body like the one in front of him now, flesh torn an frozen into jagged chunks, covered in blood turned to ice. Slick Michigan, one of Bump’s street-dealers.

What was left of him, leastaways. He were barely recognizable; sliced to shit, with nothing but bloody holes in he chest and stomach, between his legs. His throat was slit. His skin were shredded.

That was part of the problem. Terrible knelt by the body to get a closer look. Had somebody chopped Slick up like that, or had animals got to him? There were plenty around. Not just dogs and cats, neither. Never could tell what might come outen an alley, especially where they were, near the docks.
Dock people kept all kinda shit as pets; hell, he wouldn’t be surprised to find some of them had been eating off Slick. Terrible hated being by the docks. He scanned the streets over and over, watched the windows of the buildings nearby, ready to move fast if he saw even a shadow. The barrel of his gun dug into his side; usually he left it in the car, but on the border streets, or the docks…

“What you thinking?” Roley stood on Slick’s other side, shifting from foot to foot. Anxious. Terrible guessed he couldn’t blame him. The sight of Slick ain’t exactly made him feel good, neither, even if they weren’t where they were. “Like a pack of dogs got he, aye?”

Terrible shook his head. “Somebody had a knife. Slit he throat. But the rest…ain’t know.”

He stood up. “Get he packed up, dig, take he to the cooler. Let Bump get a look in.”

He weren’t thinking just of Bump having a look, though, were he? No. He weren’t. Which made sense. Got a mutilated body, it made sense to have a witch look at it. Especially since he ain’t liked the look of some of them slices, some of them patches of missing skin. Looked like maybe somebody carved some shit into Slick’s body, maybe then cut it off after he were dead. Like maybe somebody doing magic.

So it made sense to think maybe he oughta give Chess a ring-up, see was she busy, if she minded having a look. He hated to do it to her, since Slick ain’t exactly looked pretty, but still. Made sense.

Made sense to step back as Roley and Winchuk started moving Slick’s body, too. An unburied body were like a magnet for a ghost, or could be. Chess taught him that; well, he’d always thought it were true, but she’d confirmed it. Sometimes they’d try coming back, getting back into them bodies. Why they had to be buried so fast, burned so fast. Were why he made sure them at the Crematorium got their money every month, right on time, so bodies could get dropped off there and taken care of.

But he ain’t felt that kind of…unease, like he’d learned he felt when ghosts were around. Not a big feeling. Just a funny one, like somebody were squeezing his stomach a little bit.

Whatever it was, he ain’t felt it then. Good thing, too. But he still didn’t like the look of that body, and he still thought it were best to check with Bump and get the aye to bring Chess in.

Had nothing to do with wanting an excuse to spend more time with her. Nothing at all. Just doing he job.

Roley and Winchuk had Slick turned over. Terrible held up a hand to stop em going further, then reached into Slick’s pockets. The denim, crusted with frozen blood, scratched at the back of his hand as he pulled out Slick’s wallet. Nothing missing, least not what he could see. Still had lashers in it; Terrible weren’t certain how much Slick shoulda had, but he had enough that it ain’t looked like he got robbed. Drugs in he other pocket, too, so definitely ain’t been robbed.

That ain’t made much sense, though. Not for the docks. Aye, this spot—way up ninety-ninth—weren’t a busy one. And aye, Slick had only been dead half a day at most; he picked up he product the night before just right but ain’t showed up that morning to turn in he earnings. So no more than fifteen hours, and long enough to freeze solid, or at least for he skin and all to freeze solid, causen he might just be so stiff from being dead.

He’d died sometime during the night, was all Terrible knew. Figuring shit like that weren’t what he done best; well, figuring any shit weren’t what he done best, was it?

A small crowd had started forming, attracted—he guessed—by the sight of him, Roley, and Winchuk. Maybe attracted by the body, seeing as how the sun had only been up a few hours and it were hidden in some tall weeds where it weren’t easy to see, specially in the dark.

But a crowd in the docks never were a good thing. He knew enough of the dock-people not to be worried. Knew what to do if they started getting too close, if it started lookin like they realized they outnumbered him. But he ain’t exactly wanted to do it, so better to just get out clean.

And try figuring why Slick were up in that part of town to start with. He worked Fifty-fourth, nowhere near the docks. No reason for him bein up there, where most of the buildings ain’t even had roofs and most of the walls looked like crumbling pyramids.

He gave Roley and Winchuk the nod to lift the body. No blood. A little on the grass and trash under it, but looked like transfer. None soaked into the dirt. Slick ain’t been killed there, then. Just dumped there.

He looked at the little crowd. “Anybody hear aught? See anything?”

Heads shook all around. Shit. Were what he expected, but still shit.

A dame stepped forward, her skin as pale as Slick’s from cold an lack of sun. Terrible ain’t felt the cold much neither—an even if he did he wouldn’t have showed it—but he couldn’t imagine how that dame weren’t shivering so hard she could barely stand. Barely dressed at all, she was, just wrapped inna dirty blanket scrap with holes for she arms, tied around her waist with a blue ribbon. Bright blue, only barely smudged with dirt. Like she tried keeping it clean an nice, tried making herself pretty the only way she could. Something about it made sadness echo in he chest.

Specially since there wasn’t shit he could do on it, not really. He’d slip her some cash for her knowledge, but it wouldn’t go past her next meal, maybe whatever man she gave herself to; no woman went alone on the docks. Not even a tough little one like this one, standing straight an ignoring the cold.

Then he looked a little closer an saw part of the reason why she ain’t felt the cold, leastaways. Her pupils were hardly visible, just tiny black dots practically spinning in her eyes.

“Be Unk’s place, there,” she said, in such a high, squeaky voice he almost expected dogs to start howling. Her bony arm stretched out, her bony finger pointing at the paper-covered window—weren’t even a real window, just an irregular hole knocked in the brick wall—next to where Slick’s body had been. “Could be Unk see or hearn aught, could be, you asking he.”

Terrible turned, stared at the window-hole. Whoever Unk were, he were likely watching now. He’d come out in a minute, when he saw them all looking, saw Terrible looking. Least Terrible hoped he would. He’d heard Unk’s name before, and them at the docks seemed to respect the dude. Terrible didn’t want to have to go in after him.

And he didn’t have to. After a minute or so—a minute or so in which Terrible unfolded his arms, straightened his back, raised his chin, making the threat more clear—the tied-together battered slats of wood that worked as a door opened, and Unk stepped out onto he front walk.

Old and skinny, bundled in scraps of burlap and fur that looked like dog. A bright green stocking cap covered his head all the way down to his eyes. Bright, aware eyes. Unk had seen something, aye he had.

“Dumped he here roundabout darktide,” he said. “Darktide, it were, hearing me a car, an gave me a peek. Fast peek, ain’t watching long. No headlights. No moonlights. Ain’t seed it much. But hearing me a voice. Man voice. Hearing the trunk close.”

He looked at Slick’s corpse, or what there were of it, wrapped in plastic hangin between Roley an Winchuk. “Hearing a thud. Car drives off.”

Terrible nodded his thanks. “Drive off fast? Only one voice?”

“One voice. No tires squealin or whatnot.” Unk bowed. “Be all.”

Terrible nodded again. So two people—only one talked, aye, but who’d he be talking to iffen he were on his alones?—dumped Slick there at low tide, which would be just before dawn if he had his knowledge right. Which maybe he ain’t, of course. He’d have to check. And whoever it was either figured he weren’t seen or ain’t gave a fuck iffen he was, causen he ain’t bothered to take off fast.

Which sounded like it were planned, not panicked. People panicked and killed somebody, they were terrified of being seen and caught. They fucked up, made mistakes, ran around tryna hide. But people who planned murders, they didn’t worry so much. They studied, hunted around for places to dump the body, set on times to do it when almost nobody be up to see or hear.

Meant good chances they knew the docks, too, seeing as how darktide were superstition in the dock-people. Bad luck, so they thought. They ain’t gone out during it. They ain’t liked it when the tide come in, neither, but then Terrible felt the same way. The air felt weird when the tide come in, like charged with electricity.

Weren’t the time to start thinking on it. Unk had already gone back inside, so Terrible pulled two twenties from his wallet and held them out to the woman. She stepped forward like she were walking on jagged glass, every step real hesitant and scared, and tugged them out of his hand from arm’s length.

Terrible tipped his head toward Unk’s house, seeing the paper over the window gapped on the side. So Unk were watching, would know he had lashers coming. “Pass he one, dig?”

The dame nodded.

Behind her the crowd started shifting. Time to get gone. He could stay longer, aye, but better to save that for when he needed it. Best thing to do in that part of town was get in fast, get out fast. Hand out a few lashers or a few broken bones, depending; enough of both so they didn’t forget who he was.
He gave Roley and Winchuk the nod toss the body into the back of the truck, and watched them get in the cab theyselves. Time to go.

Time to start tryin to find out who killed Slick Michigan, and more importantly why.

* * *

Bump’s annoyance came through loud and clear when Terrible walked into the red living room. Always hurt his eyes a little at first, afore he got used to it. He weren’t a fan of the pictures on the walls, neither, but weren’t his place to say on it. He just tried not to pay em too much attention.

Bump paced up and down the floor, his gold toe-ring flashing with every other step. His cane leaned against the couch; he wore loose black pants and a blue button-front shirt, and his eyes were bloodshot. Looked like he’d been up all night celebrating something. Terrible wondered when he’d left his house last.

“Be Slobag, betting,” Bump said, without stopping he pacing. “Fuckin betting him behind this one, yay, tryna take heself over, gots he—”

“Naw.” Interrupting Bump wasn’t always the best idea, but he really ain’t wanted to see this one turn into an all-day tirade. “Ain’t thinkin so. Thinkin be some else. Slick all cut up, dig, ain’t just were shot or whatany, like that kinda killing. Lookin like…like be personal, maybe. Or got some other reasoning’s behind it. An Slick ain’t work near the borders, neither. No reasoning I see why it’d be him them went for.”

“Maybe Slick be fuckin spyin.”

Terrible shrugged. “Know Slick gots heself a rep, likes the dames already got men, dig. Maybe one of them catch up to he. Ain’t be the first time he been in trouble over it.”

Bump waved his hand. “Maybe. Maybe you got it right, yay, got the fuckin recall now on that. Only I ain’t wanting rule Slobag the fuck out, yay, ain’t wanting fuckin forget on he. You give it the check-on, you get onna street.”

That one wasn’t too bad. Calmed down fast that time. Good thing, too, causen what Terrible was about to say wouldn’t make Bump happy. “Also…had the thinkin could be magic, dig. Slick gots he some funny cuts on he, like maybe something carved into he, then cut off so’s we ain’t know on it. Like be some ritual or whatany like that.”

“You just fuckin sat there gave me how it probably some fuckin dude ain’t liked Slick fucking he woman. Which one it fuckin be?”

“Just sayin, is all.” He pulled out a smoke and lit it up, spent a few seconds arranging the ashtray to give himself time to think how to put it. Damn it, he should have thought on it more in the car, gave himself time to get the words right. “Ain’t know which it is. Were thinkin…maybe oughta give Chess a ring-up, ask her take a look. Just for certain, dig.”

Silence. He kept staring at the red carpet, tryna pretend there were nothing more to his thought than wanting to make sure they had everything covered. Aye, that was the reason, true thing. He wouldn’t ask on bringing Chess in iffen he were certain what or who got Slick. But he knew Bump wouldn’t see it that way, not after some of the comments he’d made over the last month and a half.

Sure enough, when he glanced up Bump was watching him, arms folded, leaning against his desk. “Thinkin be magic? Or thinkin be a fuckin excuse spend you some time with the ladybird?”

“Ain’t needing an excuse.” He shrugged as he said it, like it ain’t mattered. “Wouldn’t say iffen I ain’t think it could be something.”

Bump held out his hand. “Lemme have a look-see on them fuckin photos again.”

The camera sat in Terrible’s bag, at his feet. He dug it out and handed it over without meeting Bump’s eyes. Maybe he were wrong. The only evidence he had that it could be something to do with magic was his own suspicion. There weren’t any markings or any shit like that on the body. No weird magic shit in he pockets or aught like that. Nothing. Maybe he was just wishing it, causen it’d be a chance to see Chess more.

He already saw her a fuck of a lot more than he’d ever expected, or hoped. Almost every day. Never would have seen that one coming; iffen he’d been asked two months past he’d have said she may have been the prettiest dame he’d ever met but she seemed like one of the bitchiest too—but this would be extra time.

He sure as fuck wouldn’t complain on seeing her more. But he didn’t think that were why. He just didn’t. Something on this one were setting off alarms in he mind, makin him feel like…like something was wrong. Something starting that weren’t good, wouldn’t end well.

Bump flipped through the images on the camera, the pictures Terrible had taken an hour or so before in the cooler. “Just looks like fuckin slices to me, yay? Come fuckin on, Terrible, you done worse damage than that you own fuckin self, specially you lose you fuckin temper. You fuckin knowing that.”

“Aye.” He did know that, ceptin he ain’t lose he temper with knives, not since he were a kid. “Only, some of them patches missing, were thinking maybe were shit carved into he skin.”

“An now them fuckin gone. So what you fuckin think the ladybird gonna pick fuckin up offa that? Nothin to fuckin see is nothing to fuckin see, yay?”

Fuck. He ain’t thought on that one. Made sense, though. Chess were smart, real fucking smart. Had she all that school, an knew more than he could ever hope to. But aye, even she probably ain’t could figure on what magic might be used iffen there weren’t any evidence of it. An the body ain’t felt like aught were happening with it, neither; Terrible weren’t real good on all that, but he knew how he’d felt when everything went down at Chester Airport, and he ain’t felt anything like that with Slick’s body.

Maybe he were just wanting to get Chess involved so he could be with her. Maybe all he concerns were just bullshit made up causen he wanted to be with her more. “Just figured it ain’t hurt askin.”

Bump snorted. “Askin to get you some fuckin trouble, yay. Oughta fuckin know you better. Ain’t can trust a junkie.”

“You trust her.”

“Nay, I fuckin ain’t. Trust her do what I fuckin ask she doing, yay, causen her does it, her gets she needs, dig? Puts Bump in control. Only ain’t fuckin seein you given em to she, so ain’t can guess on why you givin she the fuckin trust you do.”

He forced himself not to move. “Chess ain’t like that.”

“Yay, her is. Only you ain’t fuckin seein it, causen you wanting in she panties so fuckin bad, gots you all crazed up—”

“Ain’t—”

“Don’t got the knowing why you ain’t just fuck she already, yay, get you fuckin over you bullshit on it.”

Like it was that simple.

No point explaining that, though. Explaining that he didn’t try because if she didn’t let him they’d both feel awkward and he wouldn’t get to see her anymore. He didn’t try because if she did let him—and she might, sometimes he had the thought she just might, specially were she fucked up—she’d run away from him as soon as they were done. He knew she would. She’d done it before. She’d done it that night, the one he couldn’t forget no matter how hard he tried—and he’d tried real fucking hard. No point explaining that she preferred her bedpartners first-name- and one-time-only.

So pretty much, he didn’t try because no matter if she let him or not, he wouldn’t get to see her anymore.

And definitely no point explaining how that would kill him. He’d already had a taste of what he were missing, and it was fucking torture. He couldn’t imagine how much worse it would be to actually have her, to have her bare skin against his and her warm body under his, to touch her everywhere, kiss her everywhere…and then lose her. For good.

Bump must have seen something on his face. Or maybe it was just that Bump already knew all this; not cause he’d been told, but just because he knew. Bump weren’t stupid. He had eyes. His expression changed, the sarcasm and irritation leaving. “Be fuckin careful, yay? Alls I meaning. Dig me that you and she got some fuckin friend thing on, her likin you and all that fuckin shit. Can see her fuckin do. Maybe you gots the right, there, yay. Her do got the knowing how to keep she fuckin mouth shut, her do.”

He shifted position, crossing his ankles in the other direction. “Only still wanting you bein fuckin careful. Gots meself some fuckin experience on this one, Terrible. Ain’t can trust a junkie, causen it fuckin comes down to you or them pills? Them takin the pills every fuckin time. Wishing it weren’t the fuckin truth, yay, I do, only it is. And ain’t wanting you fuckin get the hard find-out on it.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

What Stace had to say on Thursday, October 4th, 2012
FantasyCon & Being Busy

So. FantasyCon happened. I met some awesome people there! I got to hang out with my HarperVoyager editor and a few of the other Voyager ladies; we went onto the pier and did a few rides, including the (lame) haunted house, and the “Sizzler” (which I always knew as the “Scrambler”) where the guy running the ride neglected to close the seatbelt-bar thingie before the ride started, so my editor and I had a few moment of panic before we closed it ourselves. And, of course, the bumper cars, which we all agreed was the best one.

My editor and I also rode the Brighton Wheel, that night. It was kinda scary, to be honest. The car swung a lot, and the irritating voice-recording thing kept admonishing us not to swing the car, so we sat frozen in our seats for the first couple of revolutions until we relaxed a bit. But hey, we did ride the thing, and laughed a lot, and that’s what matters, right? (Plus, it gave me a good idea for a scene.)

Mostly I hung out with some very cool ladies I met the first night there. They were there making a follow-up to the film they made at World Horror, called “She’s Behind You.” I highly recommend you watch this. I started giggling as soon as I heard “She writes like a man.”

So anyway. Those were the highlights of my convention experience, really. And the fact that my room had an absolutely gorgeous view of the ocean. (I tweeted some pics, if anyone wants to go hunt around. I am feeling lazy at the moment.)

And I’m working working working. Working on the Terrible novella, plotting a new stand-alone project I’m really excited about: something quite different from what I’ve been doing the past couple of years (read: an erotic project) that’s actually more of a gothic than anything else, with ghosts and witchcraft and murder and stuff. If anyone here has read the short story I had in the MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE II a few years back, it’s sort of along those lines. Like I said, it’s a stand-alone, and who knows, maybe it won’t work or it won’t go anywhere or I’ll end up self-publishing it just for fun, but I’m excited about it just the same.

And of course I’m waiting to hear Mr. Agent’s thoughts on the new ms I just handed him. It’s a YA UF–sort of a historical dystopian, and it’s called PENNY DREAD. I am as always torn between thinking it’s awesome and being really pleased with it, and thinking it sucks and is awful and no one will ever even want to finish reading it much less buy it. So we’ll see what he says. And I’m sure once he says what he has to say I’ll be even busier revising and such.

And fall is coming! Yay! My favorite season–and probably the reason why I’m all afire with new ideas etc., because fall and winter are my productive times.

So. Go watch “She’s Behind You,” and enjoy!

What Stace had to say on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
The Best Garlic Breadsticks Ever

I promise.

So, there’s a certain “Italian” chain restaurant in the US. I bet you know the one. I actually tended bar at one for a time, even, and although it wasn’t a great place to work for it wasn’t as bad as some. Opinions on their food are somewhat divided, but I admit I have a special fondness for it, for a number of reasons, and I’m not ashamed, either.

But. One thing I haven’t seen anyone disagree on is the deliciousness of their garlic breadsticks. Because seriously, those are some awesome breadsticks.

The other night I was making pasta. Just a very quick pasta, with some homemade bolognese I made and froze a few weeks ago. And I had a craving for some garlic bread to go with it. Lovely, soft, buttery garlic bread. (Some of you may know that I recently figured out–finally!–how to make yeast work, with the result that I’ve been a bread-making fool for the last two months. Sandwich breads, focaccia, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls…yum yum yum. Anyway.)

I Googled the recipe for this particular restaurant’s breadsticks. And found a couple that looked likely. To my surprise, none of them used actual bread flour; they used regular AP flour. They were pretty basic, bread-wise: flour, yeast, water, salt, melted butter, and a little sugar. And the comments left on those recipes were pretty good.

But I started thinking. Hmm. They don’t use bread flour, and they’re supposed to be Italian, and I *bet* the restaurant uses something a bit spiffier than just plain old AP flour. Well, Italian 00 flour works great in focaccia bread, and in pastas. And 00 flour makes breads softer; something to do with protein levels and fineness of the milling, I don’t know all the science exactly, but I do know that 00 flour can generally be used in a lot of recipes where AP flour is, only it’s a bit softer. Since soft is exactly what these breadsticks are supposed to be, and since I had 00 flour (of course; I currently have about eight different types of flour in my pantry), I figured, why not?

Next I looked at the liquid. All just water, really? I’ve done some breads with all water, some with water & milk, and some with sour cream. The dairy ones are softer. So again, I thought, okay, let’s replace some of the water with milk. And while we’re at it, let’s add a little honey, because not long ago I made some dinner rolls with honey and milk and the hubs pronounced them “So good, you could actually sell these.” They really were good.

I don’t knead for long. Dan Lepard, in his SHORT & SWEET, makes a good case for a brief knead, and I’ve had great results with his method (oh look! That link goes to the HarperCollins UK site! Look what else is there–CHASING MAGIC, which was released yesterday!). So I basically knead just long enough to bring the dough together, then give it another short knead ten minutes or so later, and then another before I shape the dough. Normally I do two other ten-minute-interval short kneads, but again, I was going for very soft here.

So. This is the dough I made. I bought a kitchen scale a few months back, an inexpensive little digital one, so these are measured in grams. Also, I use ml for the liquids, because that’s the easiest way for me to get the temperature right, as you’ll see.

500g Italian 00 flour
10g fine salt (I used regular Morton’s iodized salt, but you could use sea salt or whatever)

whisk those together in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup mix:

1 Tbsp honey
100 ml boiling water
200 ml cold whole milk (not 2% or skim, I used whole, which I usually have to bake with)
(This will give you liquid that’s the perfect temperature for yeast; 100 ml boiling to 200 ml cold. It really works. You don’t even have to take its temperature. 300ml is about 1 cup, so you could do 1/3 cup boiling to 2/3 cold. But my measuring cup has both so it’s just as easy to use ml. You could of course mix it all and microwave it to the right temp., but I don’t have a microwave. I do have an electric kettle.)

Add to that:

2 Tbsp sugar
5g dried yeast.

You can use dried active or quick rise or whatever kind, it doesn’t matter. You don’t *have* to bloom the yeast if you’re using any kind but regular dried, but I tend to anyway just to make sure it’s alive. Give it a stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes while you melt:

2 Tbsp butter.

Let the butter cool for a minute or two, until you can stick your finger in it without it burning, and add it to the liquid/yeast mixture.

Dump the liquids and yeast into the flour/salt, mix it until it forms a dough, and knead it for a minute or two until it comes together and is fairly smooth. Then put it back into the bowl–some recipes say to oil it, and you can do that, but I don’t always bother; I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking to the bowl, frankly–cover it with plastic, and let it sit somewhere to rise.

Two things about the rise: One, all the fat in this dough means it will rise slowly. It’s because the fat does something to impede the yeast a bit. So while a less-fatty dough may double in size in an hour, this one will take maybe 1 1/2 or even 2 hours.

Two, here’s what I do to make a nice warm place for the yeast to rise. You can try a few things, actually. If your oven is on you can set the bowl on top of it, but this could get too warm. Some people recommend turning the oven on its lowest setting for ten minutes, then turning it off, opening the door a bit, and setting the bowl inside.

Here’s what I usually do, and I do the same after the dough is shaped. I set the bowl on top of the toaster and flip down the levers to turn the heating elements on. I let it sit about ten-fifteen seconds then turn the toaster off. This sends a bit of warmth rising to the bowl, but not too much, and the warmth lingers. And, as I check the bottom of the bowl during the rise, if the bowl feels too cool I can repeat it quickly and easily. No messing about with oven dials and worrying it’s too hot or heating too slow or moving oven racks about or how-far-should-I-leave-the-door-open. I just flip the toaster on for a few seconds. Easy-peasy.

I rise my dough in a really cheap see-through plastic bowl. I’ve used my nice melamine bowls, but I like these better because they’re see-through, which not only makes it easier to watch the dough rising, but also because I am always convinced I’ve done something wrong and the dough won’t rise, and with the clear bowl I can lift it up and look at the bottom. See, as the yeast starts to work little bubbles form in the bottom, little pockmarks. They start at the edges and move inward. So I can make sure the yeast is working before I actually really notice the dough rising, by looking for the pockmarks in the bottom.

Anyway. It took about 2 hours, I think, for the dough to double in size. I kneaded it a bit, shaped it into hot-dog-bun-like rolls–mine were a little too big, I only made six of them. I think next time I’ll go for ten equal pieces. Anyway. Shape them into the rolls, set them on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, and then back onto the toaster for another forty-five minutes or so until they’ve doubled in size again.

When you set the shaped bread onto the toaster, turn the oven on to 400F.

Stick the risen rolls into the oven and set the timer for seven minutes. Now in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat, melt about 1/2 cup of unsalted butter with 2 tsp of garlic powder. The recipe I had called for 2 tsp of salt, also, but it turned out a bit too salty, I think, so next time I’ll cut the salt to 1 1/2 tsp. Anyway, mix the garlic powder and salt into the butter and stir and stir. Don’t let it boil or color.

And yes, you can probably use real garlic. I can hear some of you gasping at the garlic powder. But honestly, I’d be worried about real garlic coloring or cooking in the butter. I’d be worried that the flavor isn’t intense enough or is too intense, or rather, that you’d have to use so much garlic to make the flavor right that it would feel like you spend half an hour mincing garlic. But you could, sure. I use real garlic for my other garlic butters and breads. But I was happy enough with this one.

When the timer goes off pull the bread from the oven and baste well with the butter. Give it a nice coat. Then stick it back in the oven for a further seven minutes (rotate it as you put it back).

The bread should be done after that (unlike other breads, because of the melted butter and the extra softness, the sticks won’t sound hollow if you tap the bottom). Take it out and baste with the rest of the butter. Baste it well and baste it thick. I didn’t use all the butter but I used most of it, probably about 4/5 of it. It’s gorgeous, with the shiny wet butter and little bits of garlic powder.

Look at that garlic butter

Eat while still warm, if you can even wait for it to cool down enough to be called “warm.” I swear this bread is SO SOFT. SO delicious. So squishy and buttery-garlic-y and lovely. I was one happy little breadmaker. I barely even wanted my pasta bolognese. I just wanted garlic breadsticks.

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 30th, 2012
Bringing It Home

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Well, yes, Auntie skipped posting on Friday. Because unlike you people, she actually has a life. So there. You see, being the enormous Bestselling Author that she is, she is simply inundated with requests to do tours and sign autographs and all of that; she is hounded everywhere she goes, just like all us Bestselling Authors are. (Yes, we are recognized in public ALL THE TIME, because no one is more recognizable and celebrity-like than Authors.)

Anyway. Let’s get to your own blog, shall we? And how to use the momentum you’ve gained through Auntie’s special program of sockpuppets, insults, lies, threats, and general tantrum-throwing to truly cement your place in the Authorly Stratosphere.

Why is your own blog so important? Because, duh, if you don’t take the battle to your own blog, you run the risk of the situation–and the ATTENTION–dying down. Also, being on your own blog will add credence to your lies about how many people are looking at you/your post and how they’re all rushing to buy your books in support of it. If you’re on someone else’s blog how could you know this? But on your own…hell, even if the hit counter you have up indicates only, say, 12,000 hits more than it showed when the whole mess started, you can still easily claim 25,000 people checked out your site and blog, and of course, most of them bought your book. This always fools the readersheep. But of course, if it’s not on your blog you can’t lie. And we can’t let that happen, can we? Noooo.

So. You start by writing your own blog post, in which you simply tell the truth and nothing but the truth about how those evil readersheep have injured, damaged, and hurt you personally. How they have ganed up on you and left you bereft. How your innocent attempt to point out the error of their ways–an attempt those ungrateful bitches will never admit how much they appreciate, but we all know they do deep down because all idiots like having their idiotude pointed out. How the hell else are they going to learn, right?–has suddenly snowballed into the most vicious type of aggressiveness.

This will be 100% true, because we all know how the readersheep run their carefully orchestrated campaigns. Auntie believes they have learned to do this by studying the writings of General George S. Patton, because there is of course no way they’re smart enough to orchestrate something of this nature on their own. Hence, you have a whole cabal of readersheep, sitting in front of their computer screens, overeating in a vain effort to silence the gnawing pain of Not Being An Author Like You and cackling madly while they shout, “I’ve got you now, you magnificent son-of-a-bitch! I READ YOUR BLOG!!”

Now, for the first time ever anywhere, Auntie will outline for you the exact methods these readersheep mafiosi use to discredit and attack you:

If Readers catch up to you in a dark alley one day, you are done for

*They quote you. All over the internet. You’ll find your words in places you did not put them. This cannot be countenanced, and is proof that they hate you and all Authors. (It also gives you the opening you need to start adding “You’re violating my copyright!” to your list of legal threats. This will terrify them.)

*They will comment on the things they quote. Just as if they have the right to interpret anything you say. It’s another show of their arrogance, like their stupid misinformed twaddle about your book, which they are obviously just not smart enough to understand.

*They will actually discuss their interpretations of your comments. I know. Something must be done to stop this nonsense. Everyone knows that whatever you say on the internet is intended for your eyes only, or for those of your close circle of friends. No one else has the right to look at your words. This is especially true because you are an Author, and baby, if they want to read what you write they should pay you. Unless of course it’s one of the posts you write based on the following advice, in which case they should be strapped to a table and left there with only your posts to read until they agree to concede that you are far, far better than they can ever hope to be.

*They may put your books on Mean Shelves on Goodreads. Like “Won’t Buy” or “Author Behaving Badly.” Like they have any right to judge the behavior of an Author and make any sorts of buying decisions based on it. You and your book are completely separate things and they are beholden to completely ignore anything and everything about you as a person and just shut up and buy your book. (Again, unless of course they love you. Then they should buy all of your books and give them great reviews simply because that is the sort of support they owe you.)

“Auntie,” you say, “I see this whole bad-shelving thing, but I admit, I’m curious why it matters so much.”

Ah, you poor little thing. I pat you on the head. It matters because the readersheep see even a single instance of such shelving and immediately decide that no matter how much they may want to read your book, they never ever will. All it takes is one to destroy your publishing career forever (there are numerous case studies that support this). The Readersheep know this, so they do this “shelving” thing just because they have nothing better to do and it amuses them to destroy those who have achieved things in life. Remember, just by virtue of writing some words and self-publishing them, or maybe signing a contact with a brand-new epublisher (that means they’re going to show all those big mean established houses!) you are automatically a great success in life.

I repeat, readersheep are incapable of making their own decisions. What one says, thinks, or does, all the others say, think, or do. Period.

ALL of these things can and should be addressed on your own blog. I recommend you begin by using that most mature and guaranteed-to-win argument ever: They Started It. Hey, if they hadn’t been mean about you, you never would have been forced to jump in and defend yourself, right? And they did that knowing how much it could hurt and harm you. They did it just to ruin your life and, especially, to attract your attention. That’s all they want, is for you to notice them.

So first, you point this out. How you were attacked and wounded. Say whatever you want, because the fun isn’t in this initial post–although you must make clear how hurt you are, and how disappointed that they have failed in their responsibility to you–will come in the comments. See, at least one Readersheep is bound to take umbrage at this. Like all stupid people, they get very offended when their stupidity is pointed out to them, even gently. Which you will not be, if you know what’s good for you, because gentleness doesn’t sell books.

So one or two of them will make some moronic comment about how disrespectful you’re being. This is typical of them; they try to make everything about themselves when we all know it’s actually about YOU. Simply let them know that you’re not falling for their attempts to pretend they’re the injured party. You know why they’re on your blog, and it’s because they’re having too much fun attacking you to go away. All you’re trying to do is set the record straight and here they are quoting you and picking at you like the dirty vultures they are.

One or two other Authors–well, I hesitate to say they’re worthy of the title, because all true Authors will see things the way you do–may attempt to get you to remove your post. They will pretend this is because they care and want to help you. This is utter bullshit. They simply do not want you to steal their thunder, because they themselves have been planning a similar Surefire Publicity Campaign and you’re stepping on their territory. Either that, or they’re just kissing ass, hoping the readersheep will see them and buy their books. They do this because they’re just as stupid as the readersheep. Readersheep never buy books from authors who support them, because they have no respect for such a stance. Trust me on this one.

Your post must contain a large amount of self-justification and references to both the stupidity of the readersheep AND how many better things they should have to do AND their bad taste. AND, of course, their meanness, which is what this is all about. A good way to do this is to mention the names of other, more famous Authors, thus implying a bit of modesty and pathos by admitting that, for example, you are not as famous as Stephen King, which means they are extra cruel to attack you. You could of course use J.K. Rowling instead of King; this is especially good if you refer to her as either “JK Rowlings” or “JK Rawling/s.” (Same for calling Stephenie Meyer “Stephanie Mayer,” or similar. All of these are guaranteed to make the readersheep see you as the delicate flower you are, and they will understand how little you deserve to have them express an honest opinion about your book that is not 100% positive. Or anything you do or say.) Once again, it proves that you’re not a crazy egotist, you’re not unable to accept criticism, you’re just a sensitive and extremely talented little snowflake trying as hard as she can to make it in this big scary world, and the readersheep have unjustly targeted you for ruination simply because they get off on such things. Don’t forget to mention all of the things we covered before: the health problems, how important your book is to you, how you’re a good person and they are not, how you don’t deserve such cruelty just for having a dream, etc. etc.

Now–if you’re lucky–you’ll find your blog post linked to or discussed elsewhere. Good for you! You’re becoming a Real Celebrity. Wheaties will be calling you any moment to get your picture on the box, so leave those phone lines open. Most of these posts will be readersheep pretending to be upset by what you’ve said. Do not fall for this. They’re talking about you because your name is now tattooed on their very souls, and they have already begun the process of buying multiple copies of every book you’ve ever written. Deep down they are hugely impressed by you.

But you must at first pretend you don’t know this is the case. You also must–and this is so, so important–NEVER LET THE MATTER DIE. EVER. The name of the game is “Attention at Any Cost,” and you must make them pay for what they’ve done to you. Make the biggest stink you can. Enlist your sockpuppets to start leaving abusive comments on every post on their blogs. They’ll never know it’s you. Threaten them some more. Apply more pathos.

If you’re *really* committed to becoming a huge Bestseller, you’ll try the following:

*Write more blog posts. Write several a day, exposing them for the scum they are. Discuss in great detail how they gang up and bully Authors like you, who did nothing to them except try to share a piece of your heart with the world.

*Make great and excessive use of “LOL” or “< g >” or “HAHAHA!” I recommend “LOL” for most situations. And most of the time what you’ll want to use “LOL” for are things that are not only not funny, but that no one would ever consider funny EVER. For example, you could say “Oh, well, I guess I’m just a jerk that way LOL” and it’s not really funny, but one can see where the “LOL” just might fit in as an indicator of sarcasm or you being asshole-y-ish gleeful about your assholehood. But that’s not what we want here. So try to think in terms of things like, “Sorry I have to go eat dinner LOL” or “My phone is ringing LOL.” Remember, if it makes sense or is something any actual human being would actually laugh at, “LOL” is probably wrong. I recommend “LOL” and “< g >” also for when you’re being a straight-up dick. Like, “I guess I should listen to what you dumb bitches think < g >” or “Go get a life you miserable cunts < g >.” That way you can later pretend you were joking and man, it’s not your fault they have no sense of humor. (“HAHAHAHA!” is best left for threats.)

*Take screenshots of their comments and post them out of context. It doesn’t matter if they’re quoting you calling them fiendish fuckheads. The point is, you have an image where one of them says the phrase “fiendish fuckhead.” Therefore they called you that and no one can prove any different. (Make sure you delete their comment immediately after screenshotting it.)

*Make up other screenshots/posts. The beauty of allowing anonymous comments on your blog is that YOU can post anonymously, too! Of course, you’re already doing so with your supportive sockpuppety friends, but don’t overlook the potential there. You can easily post attacks to yourself for all to see. And once again, not only can no one prove you’re not doing this, they’re too sheeplike and dumb for the idea to even occur to them!

*Don’t just use anonymous sockpuppets, either. Use some who pretend to be your literary agent, or who claim to be lawyers or publishing insiders. If you’re with a small enough publishing house, you can possibly get an editor or higher-up from there to come and go batshit all over the place, which will prove to the readersheep not only how much said publishers believe in your talent, but how important and trustworthy their judgment is. Which, duh, is a lot.

*Inform everyone that you’re receiving private death threats and are talking to the police. Tell them you’ve handed over all of their private information to the authorities (as well as, of course, your own attorney who will need it for those slander suits). This will not only invoke their sympathy and make them see how they’ve gone too far, it will also prove to them your omnipotence (don’t worry about the potential logic issue with this; they certainly aren’t capable of seeing it). As they cower in fear, your name–and book covers!–will be imprinted on their brains, forcing them to buy your books even if they don’t think they want to. They do. Why? Because YOU are dominant, and you have proven it, and now they will submit. Readersheep, being weak little fools, are guaranteed to roll over and do what you want once you take a firm hand.

*Get your friends to keep commenting on your blog and any other that discusses the situation.

*Hunt down every comment they make about you anywhere. Discuss them all with your sockpuppets in detail. Post long blog posts about them.

*Don’t forget to punctuate all of this with more statements about how hugely your sales numbers are rising with every passing second, how they have all made you famous, and you couldn’t pay for that kind of publicity so you thank them. This will make them feel foolish and, of course, prove to them that they have been outsmarted. That works especially well if you begin informing them that THIS is what you expected all along, that you orchestrated the whole thing just to expose them and their evil scheming, and that they have played right into your hands and showed the world who they truly are. THE WHOLE WORLD NOW KNOWS THEY SUCK AND ARE HATEFUL HATERS. HAHAHAHA!

Saying this is proof that you are a Winner

*And, as your last, bold move to Win It All, you must delete everything. Just delete it.

This will leave them guessing and wondering, delighted and amazed. This will leave everyone talking about you. You’ll become a legend: the Amazing Vanishing Author. They’ll debate about you for YEARS.

And you will have cemented your future forever. You, dear Author, are a hero.

TOMORROW: AUNTIE WILL ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS! SO IF YOU HAVE ONE YOU HAVEN’T YET ASKED, SEND IT IN OR LEAVE IT IN COMMENTS!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 26th, 2012
The Most Important Battle You Will Ever Fight

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Auntie would like to thank you all, first, for your comments. Of course, because most of you are readersheep she takes your compliments as only her due, but it is nice to see some of you finally growing up and accepting that your job is to support authors in any way you can. It’s not like you have anything better to do, after all.

So let’s get right to it, because this is–and Auntie is not being modest–THE MOST IMPORTANT BLOG POST YOU WILL EVER READ IN YOUR LIFE EVER. EVER. Why? Because contained in this post are the secrets to making yourself an International Author Superstar. Now first, a quick apology; I’d intended for this post to be all about you on your own blog, but it occurs to me we missed some steps, so it’s a bit of a mix.

Okay. You’ve done The Right Thing (in other words, Everything Auntie Advises) and responded to some reviews, calmly and rationally pointing out where the reviewer has been neglectful in her sacred duty to promote authors, where she has been mean about you personally by saying she didn’t like something in your book, where she is an idiot, where she doesn’t have the right to say such things because she is just a readersheep and not an Author, and where, well, she’s a bitch and it would probably be best for the world if she would just shut the hell up and let people with actual brains–that is to say, Authors and not readersheep–get about the business of doing things with books.

That’s a good start. As I explained before, the Readersheep are probably making little rumblings at the moment about you, but secretly they are superimpressed by you. And, far more importantly, the rest of the world supports you wholeheartedly.

But what to do about those readersheep making those rumblings? How can you prove to them that you are not only more special than they are, you are smarter, more important, more deserving, and a wonderful person to boot? How can you make them all give you your due?

First, you must threaten them. This is a surefire way to make them see how serious you are, AND to make them respect you. See, in the readersheep mind, authors are mythical figures of power, much like Goddesses. (Yes, they hate them, the way frustrated toddlers hate the Mommy who won’t let them stick a fork in the toaster. Which, believe me, those readersheep would probably do that if they could figure out a way to either attract more attention to themselves by doing so, or blame an Author for it.)

This means a threat coming from a Real Live Author is, well, just about the most terrifying thing that can possibly happen to them. Remember, they talk a big game because of their fanatical hatred for people of talent and worth in this world (which they are not), but really, they’re a cowardly, timid little bunch, given to erupting in vapors at the faintest hint that an Author is On To Them.

There are a whole bunch of people out there who will advise you not to threaten other people, or never make threats you can’t back up, or whatever. They are all a bunch of pussies. Authors who are afraid to threaten readers? Well, Auntie has a name for them, and that name is “Failure.” Threats are one of the best ways possible to draw attention to yourself, and attention automatically equals book sales!

The best way to start this is with legal threats, especially ones about slander. Now, some people will claim there is a difference between slander and libel, the first being spoken and the second written. They’re all morons. Everyone knows there is no difference at all, if “libel” is even a real word, which I bet it is not. Trust me, nothing will strike more fear into the hearts of the readersheep than you threatening to sue them for slander. And nothing will impress all of the others more, either. Your accusation of slander is like…like a calling card, a secret Code Word that lets the whole world know that you are a person not to be messed with.

You can make this even more impressive by mentioning that you have already spoken to your lawyer (or “attorney,” if you want to be really fancy) and he has assured you that they are in fact going to jail for a very long time because of the cruel things they’re saying. They will RUE THE DAY!

“But, Auntie,” you say, pathetically. “I don’t have a lawyer!”

First, that matters not one iota. You might know that and I might know that, but the readersheep do not. Because they are so very gullible and empty-headed, it will never even occur to them that you could possibly not be telling the truth. Merely mentioning the word “lawyer” will strike fear into their hearts. Second, Yes, you do! You just don’t realize it. You see, simply by virtue of being An Author On The Internet, you are in fact a fully qualified attorney, granted the ability worldwide to give extremely accurate legal advice on any and every aspect of the law.

YOU are the only attorney you’ll ever need:

Being a lawyer is so easy!

Now, that should take care of it. Not only should they immediately stop being meanies, but once again, you will have so impressed them all that they will immediately buy your book. It’s like some sort of Readersheep Mysticism, wherein your book sells copies simply because your name has been seen (and you’ll make mention of this later).

But what if it doesn’t? Occasionally you may come across some readersheep who are so invested in trying to make themselves look good that they will pretend not to be impressed by your legal threats.

This is where you reach for a handful of other useful phrases/threats, which I have helpfully illustrated for you below. You may want to print this image out and hang it on your wall, as a handy-dandy guide to Winning The Internets:

Any one of these is GUARANTEED to make the readersheep cry

Now, remember, all of this is being backed up by your friends and sockpuppet accounts. It’s especially useful if those accounts interact with each other, applauding and backing up, and ganging up on whomever opposes them. Also, keep in mind that as a Real Author, you know for a fact how little information is conveyed by things like syntax, word choice, phrasing, grammar and punctuation, etc. So there is no need to try to give your sockpuppets different “voices.” The one thing readersheep do not know how to do is interpret or analyze text; well, we know that, don’t we, because if they were so good at reading they wouldn’t have disliked your book to begin with! There is no possible way they will catch on to the fact that not only do you always say things like “for all intensive purposes,” five brand-new commenters with no internet footprints do the exact same thing!

Oh, dear! I almost forgot the importance of a thing Auntie likes to call “lying.” The beauty of the internet is that not only can no one ever prove you’re not telling the truth about things, but they won’t even GUESS! Readersheep believe everything they’re told, automatically. So when you make your breathtakingly mature and clever comments, make sure you insert some of those “lies.” A couple of them are already in the museum-quality illustration above, but here are a few more:

“My blog gets thousands of hits a day already.” This shows how important you are, and that you don’t need the good opinions of these particular readersheep. Thus proving that you’ve visited them on this particular occasion just to gently correct their mistakes and shower them with the golden joy of your attention, which they crave. I cannot emphasize enough how impressed they will be, how much this will immediately make them realize that they too need to jump on the bandwagon and buy your books. We call them “readerSHEEP” for a reason, and that reason is they have no decision-making capacities of their own and immediately do whatever they’re told, or whatever the other readersheep are doing.

“I am a Bestselling Author.” There is no way for anyone to check up on this, and readersheep are always impressed by an author of whom they’ve never heard making this claim. Hey, you didn’t say where! And nobody can make you, either. You are, after all, the Best Selling Author In Your Home, are you not? You get bonus points if you have ever hit an Amazon list that is so narrowed down that there are only a dozen books that could even possibly be on it. That totally qualifies. You are definitely on a par with Stephen King [we’ll get to him tomorrow], J.K. Rowling [her too], and Stephenie Meyer, and deserve just as much in the way of awe and accolades for the fact that your book sold ten copies on that one Tuesday when you had ten friends all go buy it at the same time so you could call yourself a Bestselling Author. Once again, the word “Bestselling” immediately tells the readersheep that you are a serious genius, a force to be reckoned with, someone whose very existence demands respect. The subtle blessed aroma of Bestsellerhood will drift over them, much like those sex pheromones, and make them see you in a totally different, totally respectful, light. They’re messing with a Bestselling Author, you see, and everyone knows Bestselling Authors have the power to get them fired from their jobs with just one phone call, or make lead into gold, or change the weather using only their awesome brain power. Oh, and the Bestselling Author can immediately blacklist any other person from anything to do with publishing, too, which means no more ARCs for those sleazy freeloading readersheep who are, after all, nothing more than a bunch of thieves. Just like those scumbags who use the library.)

“I have sold movie right/I am about to sell movie rights.” Again, no one can possibly check up on this. And the readersheep will be so impressed they will immediately rush to buy your book because, hey, if somebody else they’ve never met likes it, they will too!

“I have Another Secret Pen Name under which I write huge bestsellers that you all love.” Now, this one works especially well if you are an author starting an epublishing house (and Auntie is considering a post especially for those people, who clearly need her help), but it is worthwhile in this situation as well. Reason being that it is conclusive proof that the review isn’t about your book but about YOU; this is personal for them and nothing they say will ever prove it is not. Because it is.

At this point, people will be talking about you ALL OVER THE INTERNET. Everyone in the whole world now knows your name, even people who use the internet exclusively for porn and buying shoes. Even, in fact, people who have no internet connections. This will immediately translate to sales (or, as the Real professional Authors call them, “sells”), and it is time to begin pointing this out. Good phrases include:

“You guys are just selling my books for me, HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Keep going! You should see my sales numbers (or “sells,” of course) increasing! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“My sells have doubled/tripled/fourthupled since your review went up! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“Hollywood producers have started calling me! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“You guys are totally proving how mean you are! Go ahead, show everyone! HAHAHAHAHA!”

“You are totally making me famous! HAHAHAHAHA!”

Or, if you want to really strike fear into the hearts of the readersheep:

“I AM GOING TO EXPOSE ALL OF YOU FOR THE LYING LIARS YOU ARE AND IT WILL DESTROY YOUR ENTIRE LITTLE WORLD BECAUSE EVERYONE WILL SEE YOUR EVILHOOD! HAHAHAHAHA!”

You see…

And don't ever forget it.

Sadly, I did not really get to your own blog. But I sort of did, because all of these tips can be easily modified to use there. There was just too much to cover here. I’ll do that tomorrow.

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending. Auntie already has a question or two in the queue, so keep ‘em coming!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
The Internet is a War That Must Be Won

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Well! I apologize that it took me so long to get today’s post up. I’ve had to talk my children–yes, Auntie also has children–down from the ledge after I mentioned “reader bloggers” to them. I cannot tell you what a mistake it is to even let young children know such beings exist in the world. In fact, my children, after they came out from under the bed, asked me if they could draw a picture of these “reader bloggers” as a way of working through their terror. I think I should share that image with you, so that you understand this is not a joke. Reader bloggers are out there, and they are hideous:

My seven-year-old sobbed as she drew this.

Reader bloggers are a special kind of evil, you see. Not only do they insist on sharing their opinions of books with other readers, they actually seem to think they have no responsibility to authors in doing so, even though–again, as we all know–due to the nature of readersheep, a single poor review from a book blogger will destroy a book’s publishing chances forever, whereas a positive one automatically rockets that book right to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. This is documented fact, you guys. Auntie wouldn’t lie to you. EVERY book ANY review blogger out there likes is a shoo-in to hit every list there is, and most likely made into a movie, and every single book ANY review blogger does not like automatically goes nowhere and does nothing. Thus ending that author’s career forever.

And yet these “bloggers” still refuse to accept that it is their job to only give good reviews, and that we Published Authors are better than them in every way. I mean, come on. We may be self-published, or published with some tiny micropress run out of a feed store by intellectually challenged fools who cannot properly use punctuation, or published with a small respectable epress, or commercially published; it doesn’t matter. Once a book is out there we are automatically on a par, in both talent and the level of recognition we deserve, with Pulitzer Prize winners. Somebody out there wanted to read your book. That means you are royalty.

And royalty must behave like royalty. This is where our Advanced Promo Tips begin.

First, remember that just like the headline says, the internet is a war. One you can–and should, and will!–win. Nothing in the world is more important than this victory. You MUST NEVER GIVE UP. Second, remember that just by participating, you ARE winning, because–and for some reason readersheep never understand this, but that’s only what we’d expect, isn’t it? Like we can expect the likes of them to “understand” things–every single click on your blog or Goodreads account, or reply to you, or mention of your name, equals ONE SOLD BOOK! Maybe even a dozen! Or a hundred! The readersheep, you see, cannot stop themselves from buying every book whose title they hear, unless of course they hear about it through a single bad review in which case forget it, your career is over.

You see:

This is the 100% truth and everyone knows it

“Okay, Auntie Specialsnowflake,” I hear you saying, “This is all well and good, and you of course are a genius, but when do we get to the nitty-gritty? Tell me how to defeat the readersheep, win the internets, and become famous!”

Okay. I will. First we’ll discuss the Importance of Replying to Reviews, and the proper way to do it.

First, as I mentioned yesterday, of course you should reply to your reviews. All of them. Every single one. Readersheep have to know you’re watching them. This will intimidate them and Make Them Do Your Bidding, which is the whole point of writing a book in the first place. You must get them to change their reviews, or at the very least let them know that you are on to them. They don’t fool you; how could they, when they are so dumb and you are so smart?

So, again much like those Conquistadors in my last post, you may at first encounter resistance to your superiority and an unwillingness to see the light. Don’t worry. The Conquistadors had smallpox, and you too have a strong arsenal of weapons:

1. Your comment itself. Yesterday I mentioned a little bit about what you should say, but let’s get into specifics, shall we? I personally think the best tack to take is the “You’re MEAN!” method. This consists of, well, telling the reader how mean she is. She will definitely see the error of her filthy, filthy ways, especially if you point out any of the following:

*Her review made you cry

*You have a family to support and she has just snatched food from the mouths of your starving children by publicly saying what she didn’t like about your book

*You have health problems and she has just exacerbated them. You will probably have a stroke or something and die and it will be all her fault. It’s good if you mention what a struggle life is for you and what a personal triumph it is for you just to type words on a page because of the constant pain you suffer from living in a van next to the nuclear power plant, and how your only comfort is the soft glow of your cat at night as you lay your head on the burlap sack you are forced to use as a pillow.

*She obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to be an author, because, of course, she doesn’t. Readersheep understand nothing of what life is like for Artists and Other Sensitive And Special People; they have all the empathy and imagination of a dentist’s drill. She doesn’t realize how important your book is to you. It’s beneficial here to discuss how your characters talk to you, how they are more real than anything else in the world, how you can’t help writing because those people in your head claw and scratch to get out and if you don’t write you’ll wind up covered in blood in an alley somewhere from being attacked by them because you have zero control over anything you do, think, or feel. If they realize your characters are real people to you, they will feel even worse about being so cruel and cavalier in their petty judgment. They will realize that not only are YOUR feelings hurt, but YOUR CHARACTERS’s feelings are hurt.

*As a subsuggestion, it’s always good to use the phrase “the book of my heart.” Once readers see that it is not a book being reviewed, but YOUR VERY SOUL AND THE REASON YOU EXIST ON THIS EARTH, they will back down. (At least they better, but that’s for tomorrow’s post.)

*She is obviously jealous because she isn’t published. I promise you it’s true. ALL READERS WANT TO BE WRITERS, AND ALL READERS HATE YOU. This is axiomatic. They see us authors, floating on clouds of Writerly Success, and the tumult of wicked jealous sickness that festers inside them simply cannot handle it. They explode, and what flies out of them is like the filth in Pandora’s box. This is the only way they can get revenge on us for achieving successes they themselves will never have. It doesn’t matter how well-educated or successful or fulfilled they are in whatever they do, the simple truth is that because they have no written a book their souls are shriveled and black with rage and pain, they cry into their pillows every night, and they know, deep in their hearts, that they are Failures.

So don’t feel bad about anything you say to them. Contrary to the lies those lying liars tell, their reviews are NOT just ways to share their opinions with other readers. They are letters written directly to you (remember, everything is about you), and the text of that letter—if you look beneath the superficial blah-blah-blah of their stupid uninformed opinions—is always:

AUTHOR I HATE YOU FOR BEING SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.

Don’t be afraid to call them on it. It’s for their own good.

*It is a good idea to make sure you let typos and punctuation errors slip into your comments. This will prove that you are Just Like Them, and also that you are emotionally attached to what you’re saying–everyone knows that emotions and good writing are mutually exclusive and, indeed, that spelling correctly etc. only makes you look like a snob. One or two Readersheep may point out your errors to you. That’s a good thing, because it gives you a chance to say once again how mean they are and how they’re making it personal and that you’re only writing a comment, not a book. That underscores the contempt you have for book blogs in a subtle way, one that will be much appreciated by all.

2. Your author friends. I’m sure you know a couple of people who like you. Well, of course you do! And I bet not only are they authors too, but they are also interested in Making Themselves Rich and Famous! So they will want to help you. You must contact them immediately, and share with them the incredibly shocking and important fact that Someone Has Said Something You Don’t Like On The Internet. This will inspire them all to come along and comment, and here are some helpful tips for those comments:

*It is often good to have at least one or two of these people pretend not to know you and claim they are Just Another Readersheep, but one who–of course–loved your book. Readersheep are like zombies, you see; they are easily fooled. A few shambling steps, a blank expression, and a dull moan or two is all one needs to con them into thinking someone is one of their herd.

I asked my kids to draw a picture of "readers." This is what they did.

(Readersheep also attack in gangs–worldwide gangs very carefully organized with military precision, which is odd given their innate stupidity, but ours is not to reason why, right?–but we’ll get to that.)

Your Readersheep Decoy friend should claim not to understand why the other Readersheep are being so MEAN, or how they could not love your book, which is of course the greatest book ever written and only dumbass readersheep wouldn’t see that. It is good if they say things like, “What did Author ever do to YOU?” or “I’ve been reading this blog for years but this is GOING TOO FAR!” or, conversely, “I just found this blog and I WILL NEVER BE BACK AGAIN.” The last two are especially good because readersheep are constantly terrified that someone out there might not read their blogs, so this is bound to make them rethink their evil ways.

*Another possibility is to go ahead and have a few people admit they know you. “You don’t understand how awesome My Friend Author is and how much she deserves better” always works to make the Readersheep see that, indeed, they are not taking The Author’s feelings into account, and how very wrong that is.

Both of the above should feel free, as we discussed previously, to call the readersheep names. Names like bitch, whore, and cunt always impress the Readersheep. (It’s a good idea to keep one or two friends in reserve; they can disavow this behavior with a “Author would never tell people to say things like that!” This will make it appear as though you are indeed a good person and a great writer, but have so many fans you’ve attracted crazies. Everyone knows only famous authors have crazy fans. The Readersheep will be highly impressed by this, even if they pretend not to be.

3. Sockpuppets. Sockpuppets are EXTREMELY important. They are a valuable tool in your professional arsenal. What is a sockpuppet? A sockpuppet is…well, it’s just another highly legitimate way for you to put those dipshit readers in their places! It’s a way for you to interact with the Readersheep from behind the sweet, sweet veil of anonymity. Don’t worry; they will never see through this, ever.

What you do is create a brand-new account on whatever site it is, disavow any relationship to yourself, and post away! It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s highly effective. Any of the methods outlined above will work for you and your sockpuppet accounts–and believe you me, you can never have too many sockpuppet accounts.

4. Your own blog/Twitter feed/Facebook account. Of course. Where else would you go to indignantly point out to the world how badly you’re being treated? Your blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages are your very own little worlds, where you are the Queen. This is where you can speak directly to readers–and it has the added benefit of being not only All About You, but of giving you access to up-to-the-moment details about how many people are reading what you say–which as we all know is just another way of saying “How many people are rushing to buy your books with EVERY PASSING SECOND.” Because they totally are.

Once you get to your own blog…well, the sky’s the limit! This is what Auntie will cover tomorrow, and it’s where you start making The Big Money! Just one more day and fame, wealth, and accolades will be yours!

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending. Auntie already has a question or two in the queue, so keep ’em coming!

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Be Rich and Famous! The Internet Way

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Okay, guys. We all know it’s hard to get attention out there. And we especially all know just how…well, how goddamned unfair that is, right? After all, you are special. You deserve far, far more than you’ve been getting.

Well, this is your lucky day! Because Auntie Specialsnowflake is here to help you make piles and piles of internet money, and rocket yourself to International Fame! And it will be SO EASY!

First, let’s establish a basic or two. A couple of things you need to know; The Players, as it were:

1. YOU. You wrote a book. Maybe you decided to hop on the Amazonmoneywagon and self-publish, because everyone knows if you do that you’ll be a millionaire overnight. Maybe you went the commercial route. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is:

You wrote a book, and that means you deserve huge money and fame and proves you are automatically superior to all those lesser beings who either did not write books or did not write good books (i.e. they did not write YOUR book). It especially makes you far superior to those pesky beings called “readers,” but we’ll get to them in a minute. For now, this is all you need to keep in mind:

Do not forget this

2. Now. What is it you deserve, because you wrote a book? Why, fame, fortune, adoration…just the basic things, of course. Certainly you deserve NOTHING BUT PRAISE. Which leads us to…well, The Adversary. We’ll call them readers:

Readers: Vicious, cowardly, stupid beasties. You must beat them at all costs.

I can hear you already. “But Auntie Specialsnowflake! Aren’t readers, you know, the people who give me money for my work and stuff?”

Yes. Yes, they are. That doesn’t mean you have to be nice to them, stupe. In fact, it’s best not to. Here’s why:

A. Readers are not smart, ever. They learn nothing by doing that reading thing. Certainly they are not as smart as you. Hey, I don’t see them writing books, the losers.

B. Readers cannot be trusted to recognize your talent. They can’t be trusted to always love your work and praise you. This horrifying situation must be remedied.

C. Readers–I can hardly bring myself to type this, even–cannot be trusted to keep their mouths shut when they do not like your book. They seem to think that reading your book gives them the right to say whatever they like about it, even if–man, this is hard!–even if it is not praise. The nerve of them, I know. Please sit down for a minute to get over the shock. Just breathe.

D. They compound all of these errors by thinking that just being able to read makes all of this okay, even though they have not written books of their own, and therefore cannot understand the fragile and special bond between a writer and his or her Book Baby, or all the hard work that went into that book, or how much it matters to us, or how much Mom or Dad (or, of course, Auntie Specialsnowflake) loves it. How the hell do they know what good writing is? Really. I ask you. Idiots. I bet they think they’re capable of judging whether or not a meal is well-cooked even if they are not professional chefs, or whether a car runs even when they are not mechanics, or whether an airplane flight is enjoyable even when they are not pilots, or whether an item of clothing provided adequate cover even though they are not seamstresses. Everybody’s a fucking expert these days, you know? Sheesh. I’m telling you, they are a scourge.

D. Worst of all, readers seem to not realize that their job is solely to love and promote your book–and by extension YOU. It’s like they think they’re totally separate people from us writers, like they don’t have some sort of obligation to us because we wrote a book. They actually don’t think they owe us anything at all, if you can believe that arrogance. They actually think, even, that we shouldn’t tell them what to do or treat them like we expect the deference we so richly deserve. It’s like they’re just walking egos thinking we should let them have opinions of their own or let them talk to each other about our books without us butting in or whatever. I’d as soon let my dog eat at the dinner table, I tell you that.

Luckily, there are things you can do. There are ways to get around these cockroaches-in-human-suits called “readers.” It’s not even hard. Why? Because, like I said, readers are stupid. They actually write their opinions down, on the internet, which is like an open invitation for you to respond. Why, you’re really doing them a favor with some of these things, because otherwise they might go thinking they can make their own decisions about what to read, and we can’t have that nonsense.

Anyway. Now we have the basics. Let’s get started.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone in the world sees everything on the internet every minute of every day. This is key to our promotional strategy and will make you very rich a whole lot faster. You must keep a careful eye on every single mention of your name and make sure that you control that situation totally. For example, let’s say some dumbass has the nerve to think your heroine was stupid. Now, you could just think, “Oh, too bad,” and move on. You could think “I wish I’d written her smarter,” and move on. You could think, “Well, huh, she seems smart enough to me, so oh well, I guess my book just wasn’t right for that person,” and move on.

ALL OF THESE ARE WRONG. If the above is your instinct, you are Not Ready To Be A Real Writer.

The correct response, as everyone knows, is to gently but firmly step in, tell the reader first of all that you see her review, and that she has been remiss in her duty to you by actually forgetting that she is not the person who matters in this little transaction. You are. Explain to her not only why she is wrong about your heroine, but that she was wrong to say such mean things about your book, because who does she think she is? Remind her that her opinions only matter insomuch as how they relate to you and your feelings. She should be happy you’ve done this, as it will make her see how much you care.

“But Auntie,” you say, “That’s fine for some reviews. But what if the reviewer actually, like, made a joke in her review? What if she used one of those four-letter-words that polite ladies do not use ever? What if she said more than one bad thing about the book? What if she was actually morally and intellectually bankrupt enough to hate my book? What do I do?”

Well, of course, not every bit of advice is fit for every situation. Sometimes you must be stricter with those morons. It’s perfectly okay to call them names if they hurt your feelings–after all, our teachers on the playground told us not to do that, but we learned that calling the other girl a poopypants meaniehead made us feel better, didn’t we? And if it was good enough for our five-year-old selves, it’s good enough for us now.

Remember, readers are stupid. They’re like sheep. If one reader in the world likes a book, every single other one will, and vice versa. Readers know this, which is why they never ever disagree about whether or not they like a particular book. If they see one single bad review, or even a lukewarm review, they will run en masse to buy something else. Because, being sheep, they are 100% incapable of making their own decisions based on their own tastes. They don’t even know their own tastes! Look at me, talking about “readers” and “tastes” in the same sentence. Ha ha!

This is why you must control every word said about you everywhere. When a reader posts a review somewhere, it’s like an insect flying into a spider’s web; it sends little vibrations through the whole entire internet and within thirty seconds every reader in the whole world has read that review and decided they love or hate you based on it.

But you know what else will make them love you? Standing up for yourself. Aggressively. Now we’re getting into the advanced promotional techniques, so I warn you: some of this may seem a little strange. But bear with me. You’ll be glad you did when you’re sleeping on mattresses stuffed with money, just like Don Draper. Because really…

THIS IS THE INTERNET. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY GO WRONG BY MAKING A SPECTACLE OF YOURSELF.

Trust me.

So. Your mission is to get that dumb little bitch to change her review, right? You can’t have the readersheep seeing that your heroine is stupid. I mean, this is your livelihood! Don’t they understand it’s their obligation to make sure you earn money through writing? Jeez, you’d think they had their own families to take care of or something, or their own lives to live. Selfish, selfish, selfish, that’s all they are.

How do you do that?

There are a number of ways.

We’ve already covered responding yourself. This is a good and right thing to do. Not just because it will show that moronic reader who really matters, but because it will draw attention to you. Remember, attention is the name of the game! The more people see you, the more people who will immediately rush out to buy your book.

But what if you did, and the reader is too stupid to be grateful that you have turned your Glorious Author’s Eye onto her, and allowed her to bask in its gentle Sodium Glow of Truth. Trust me, she’s posting her review just to get your attention. Readers are attention whores, see. They pretend they’re just trying to talk about books, but really, they are desperately trying to steal your own Internet Fame. (There is only so much internet to go around.) Do not fall for their claims that this is just their opinion (we know that’s not true, due to them being a hivemind) and especially do not fall for their claims that they have a right to their own opinions. They do NOT.

See, in addition to their sheeplike, easily led “brains” (I know, it makes me giggle too), readers are sometimes incapable of accepting your superiority over them. Much like South and Native Americans who failed to immediately bow down to the Conquistadors, so readers will try to pretend that you are not better than they are, and will resist your attempts to correct this problem. This is because of their own silly insecurities, their tendency toward attention whoring, their sluggish pea-like minds, their lack of morals, their denial of responsibility, and their sick, sad need to put other people down just for achieving something they could not themselves achieve. I repeat: if readers were so damn smart they’d write their own books. AmIright? Of course I am! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the battle. Don’t forget to come back, and learn everything you need to know about vanquishing those idiots who buy books and crushing both their free will and, hopefully, their personal lives. It’s nothing less than they deserve.

YOU WILL BE A HERO

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending.

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

Special thanks to the adorable and talented and awesome Carolyn Crane for inspiring me to create my own drawings to illustrate this post rather than hunting for some online and potentially violating copyrights.